In a red life jacket, a broad-brimmed straw hat and his signature gold aviators, Jay Weatherill sets sail on the river that he wants to help save.
The South Australian premier is in the state's Riverland to meet with locals and to take a boat ride on the Murray to see how it's going.
The black water is flowing at the highest level for 23 years after an unusually wet winter, with stretches of Renmark's riverside footpath submerged.
But Mr Weatherill says the strong flows are misleading because flooding is rare and the river's future remains at risk, especially with Barnaby Joyce in charge of the nation's water.
"This river needs water for it to be healthy," he told a community meeting in Renmark on Wednesday.
"That's why we struck the Murray-Darling Basin agreement and we insist on the plan being delivered in full.
"I don't believe we can get that while Barnaby Joyce remains as water minister.
"If we don't call him out now, on the eve of him tearing up this agreement, it is gone."
The Basin stretches some 2500km and is home to more than two million people, representing about a third of Australia's agricultural production.
Mr Weatherill wants the federal government to fulfil its promise to return an extra 450GL in environmental flows down the Murray so it can survive in times of drought.
The extra flows are a conditional part of the 2012 Murray-Darling Basin Plan in that they can only be delivered if upstream communities are not negatively affected.
Mr Joyce believes these upstream communities would be harmed and he won't commit to this part of the plan.
But Mr Weatherill said it can be done with clever infrastructure projects and improved water efficiency up north.
He called on the Riverland's farmers and irrigators to back him as he prepares to plead his case on Friday at the Council of Australian Governments meeting
"Just because we're at the end of the river does not mean we should be treated last," the premier said.
"If we don't stand up they will run over the top."
Some at the meeting, like irrigator Ben Haslett, agreed the health of the basin was crucial to the region's livelihood.
"We need to make sure we have healthy river, there's no question about that," Mr Haslett said.
"So that we can actually sustain food production in Australia. That means having affordable, reliable water."
But others were more concerned about the affordability and reliability of power, given the recent statewide blackout.
"I can't afford to lose my pumping capacity because my crops won't last for longer than 24 hours without water," irrigator Andrew Kassebaum said.
"You can have all the water in the river you like but if you can't pump it to where you need it then it's pointless."